Friday, August 25, 2006

New Year, New World

We prized our weekends. We did more than that, we seized them from the first moment and squeezed every possible bit of time and happiness out we could. Because weekends were all we had, and we knew we were lucky to get those.

There was a silent battle going on, one most people still know nothing about. It had nothing to do with computers or millennium viruses. It was the fight for the next millennium, and it was deadly.

I don't know how many plots there were. I have a strong sense of the most vulnerable places in the world simply from reading the signs around me; I know where, almost certainly, things were stopped. But in the weeks leading up to Y2K there were dozens certainly - probably hundreds - of people who spent every waking moment thinking about the end of the world. They ticked off the things they knew, the things they stopped and worried constantly that they hadn't found it all.

At first Kirk left the house before 5 in the morning, generally didn't get home until after 7. Christmas day he didn't get home until 3 a.m. He slept a little, woke up to watch the kids open stockings and exult over presents, then by 9 he had gone back to work again. After that he was often gone by 3 or 4 a.m., not home until 8 at night.

New Years came. Kirk of course was at work. It's funny I just realized I have no idea where he actually was; I assume it was the ops room at Norfolk, but it could have been anywhere. I was home with the kids.

We piled up cushions and blankets on the couch and settled in; big plans for the new millennium - we were going to watch the Crocodile Hunter marathon. We must have started watching at 7 (crikey! There's a little beauty!), then as each hour ticked by I would flip quickly over to the news channel and we would watch 2000 roll across the world. The kids couldn't have been less interested; they didn't want to miss Steve but I insisted.

Asia changed over. Jerusalem celebrated and Turkey. Then Eastern Europe slowly ticked across, and Paris. And London. Each time there was a sick, horrified tension and then miraculous release: nothing. Thousands of happy, shouting people and... that was all.

Now, with the horror of 9/11 a constant reminder, with arrests in London, and kidnappings and bombs across the Middle East maybe we forget something. The new millennium, our time, was begun in peace.

That was the victory. There are thousands of people alive right now who owe their lives to the folks in Kirk's unit and others like them. And they don't know it - and that's how it should be.

Maybe it's good now and then to remember that.

2 comments:

child of unknown number said...

i still think steve is better. he's funny, educational, entertaining, and he has good catch phrases. all y2k did was drop a ball down a roofamajig.

Anonymous said...

I really liked the celebrations broadcast from Egypt and the amazing fireworks on the Eiffel Tower. Pretty awesome.